Light at the end of the tunnel?

Midway into January I feel like I’ve slumped.  Both at rowing, where I can’t keep my back straight and engaged (which is causing me to dip forward at the catch, lose power and possibly check the boat), but on land I can’t keep my act together.

The New Year starts with a big party, but then everyone goes back to work and the daily grind starts again.   After two weeks off, it’s difficult to jump back on that train.   When the alarm begins to strum, I struggle to slide one leg out of bed and onto the floor and force my body up.   Logically I know this is the time of year when you put your body into high gear and do everything you can to maintain cardio, build speed, build strength–this is the time of year when you win your race in June.

But it’s been hard.  Really hard.

I haven’t been able to maintain 2-REW over the last two weeks.  First it was because of family–I missed the second row, but I did compensate with running.  This week I faced two meetings and afternoon activities, plus the end of the term which meant grading, grading, grading.  I missed all the running, plus the second row cancelled out due to dark/low tide/wind.

My erging is frustrating.   I’m struggling to maintain the higher ratings over time which annoys the tar out of me.   Just a few months ago, in training for the Hooch, I rowed a 26-28spm over 20 minutes.  What’s wrong with me?   Why is it a struggle to hit 28spm for five minutes?  It’s a catch-22, though, because I see I’m stronger.  On the 10 x 500 I had to do this week my spilt time didn’t creep into 2 minutes until the sixth one, a vast improvement over the 8 x 500 from before Christmas.  I’ve felt the same about weightlifting.  Even though I’m increasing weight, I don’t feel that I’m doing enough.    It’s insane, because my squat weight has increased 20 pounds and my leg press 35 pounds since I began.    I just wonder, “I am doing this right?” and “Is this enough?”  What are all the other crews doing?   I just keep picturing some Helga in a gym up North clean jerk and pressing who is going to row me under water in August.  Having inherited the brains but not athletic ability, I can’t help but feel out of my league.

My rowing is irritating me.   Besides factors beyond my control, I can’t seem to not over extend my right shoulder.   I try to focus on sitting high and arching my chest up, but I know it’s falling down while I’m rowing.   I’m trying to get on the legs with stroke, who’s great at exploding at the front end, but I always seem to be a touch behind.  I’m aiming to feel the stroke through the oarlock and slow the last quarter up the slide.  I want that clicky catch while not soaking the other six rowers behind me.  I want to feel the connection into my lats and not break that right arm early and not feather with the outside hand.   I want to make my legs burn so I’m tripping and weaving up the ramp when practice is done. But it’s not happening.  For all my concentration, I keep messing up.  And I want to be on the water rowing a single more, but when?   When is it not dark, or foggy, or windy? At least eight times a week, my morning and afternoons are dedicated to 8s, erging, weightlifting, and running.   Work is 35 minutes away from rowing, and I must be there at 8:15.

I returned to tracking calories.   After weeks off, finding the right, healthy balance is a challenge–especially when someone brings in donuts that include French Crullers, my favorite!   Saying “no” is not my strong suit.   I seem to eat two meals well-balanced, but one meal will throw it all off.  Or, I’ll eat a decent, nutritious meal under 500 calories, but still feel starving.  It’s been tough to exercise my willpower, and I know I need to resume no alcohol, salads at lunch, fruits for snacks, but I’m struggling to make the transition back to nutritious eating.  Even with the burps and upsets, I’ve averaged around 1,600 calories a day and not lost any weight in the last two weeks.  Irked and hungry–that’s me!

The long and short is, I know some of this is mental.  Some of it is my lack of wise choices.  Some of it is motivation.   I can’t deny that right now I feel in a rut and that I’m letting myself and my team down.   In August, I want a medal.  I want that since of pride and accomplishment, and I want to cry on the docks or podium or where-ever the medal ceremony is.   I want my family to be there and actually see me win something.  Right now, I don’t see that happening.   I think of all these other rowers who are better than me, who rowed in college, who are long and lean, who were gifted with athleticism, who can row under 2:00 spilt blindfolded.  I think of one of the best Masters Rowing clubs in the nation, a mere two hours away, and their women’s 8+ that practices four days a week and works out militantly, that crush us every year.  And I think of all these other women with years of experience, who compete around the nation regularly, at the top of their sport, and will come together and smother a wanna-be “A” handicap peon.   Sure, I can see some improvement.  I’m lighter, I’m leaner, stronger, and faster, but even now, I wonder if it’s too little too late, and if I’m losing the race now, nine months away.


About camckenna

I write; I row.
This entry was posted in Struggles, Training and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Light at the end of the tunnel?

  1. Holly W. says:

    I promise you, this is a mental game that ALL athletes feel at one time or another. Even those “hard-corse beasts” from a team who shall not be name have struggles. I’ll e-mail you more in a bit 🙂 You’re doing awesome and your work is inspiring to the rest of us who are feeling even more lethargic and unmotivated!

  2. Joe says:

    Not all progress is fast or steep. You are improving. What you are feeling is normal for mid January.
    Think about wide shoulders at the catch. Consider connecting with equal pressure on feet and fingersat the instant the drive starts and maintaining that pressure with both feet and fingers all the way to the release. See Carlos Dinares blog subj rowing on the square. Good luck.

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